CHAPTER ONE: BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN
Whatever you’ve heard about Darius Drake is probably wrong. Dead wrong. Some of the stories are lies, some are mistaken, and the rest were invented by Darius himself, to fool his enemies.
Enemies. Not school bullies, or mean kids that hated him, although there were plenty of those. I’m talking about real, grown-up enemies who wanted to steal the long-lost treasure Darius recovered and erase him from the world.
I know because I was his only friend.
Not that it started out that way. As far as I was concerned he was just another weirdo. This tall, skinny kid, all arms and legs, shooting up his hand at every opportunity, answering questions before the teacher even thought to ask them. Seemed like maybe he was sneering at those of us who didn’t know the answers. Plus he had thick reddish hair that kind of exploded from the top of his head, like an eruption from a hair volcano. Ugh. Girls saw him and rolled their eyes. The boys ignored him, if possible, and dissed him when necessary, to keep their distance. No one wanted to be seen in the vicinity of Darius Drake, and if he wouldn’t keep his distance, you persuaded some big, fat, scary-looking dude to back him off.
That would be me. Arthur Bash, thug-for-hire. Hand me a candy bar and point me in the right direction. In this case the end of a crowded cafeteria table where Darius had parked himself for lunch.
“Hey,” I say, looming over him. “Beat it.”
“Sit somewhere else. This table is taken.”
“Ah,” he says, raising his chin. “And if I don’t?”
“Bad things will happen.”
He stands up, slump-shouldered, clutching his tray of gluey mac and cheese. “Any suggestions?”
“Where I might dine undisturbed.”
I shrug, then point. “Over there. Empty table.”
He nods like a bobblehead doll and heads for the empty table.
I lower my bulk into the seat he’s vacated and inhale the Snickers bar in one fat bite.
Whatever you've heard about Darius Drake... it's wrong.
Some of the stories are lies, some are mistakes, and the rest were invented by Darius to fool his enemies.
And I do mean ENEMIES. Not school bullies or mean kids. I'm talking about real, grown-up enemies who would stop at nothing to find the legendary Dunbar diamonds before Darius and I did.
So whatever you've heard – forget it. Because THIS is what really happened.
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Rodman Philbrick has been writing since the age of sixteen. He had published more than a dozen novels for adults before the publication of his first book for younger readers, Freak the Mighty. Since then, he has won numerous awards and honours, including the prestigious California Young Reader Medal, the Arizona Young Readers' Award and the New York State "Charlotte" Award. Freak the Mighty has been translated into many languages and was made into the feature film, The Mighty, starring Sharon Stone, with theme music by Sting. Rod divides his time between Maine and the Florida Keys, USA.